Week in Washington 051123

Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.

Week in Washington


Debt Ceiling

Focus on Capitol Hill continues to center on the debt ceiling. Negotiations this week between Congressional leaders and the President did not yield any tangible agreements. However, discussions are beginning within Congress on potential compromises (e.g., some level of budget cuts). Discussions are expected to intensify next week.

End of PHE

Today officially marks the end of the Covid public health emergency. There are a number of changes that will occur after the end of the PHE (such as, hospitals no longer receive the 20% Medicare reimbursement bump for treating Covid). It should be noted that a number of the Covid related vaccine and treatments that are approved under emergency order are not impacted by the end of the PHE (their approval is tied to another emergency act).

Medicaid Unwinding

State data is starting to be released on a redetermination process. There are a few states that have released their findings. Idaho reported that 60% percent of its pandemic-protected Medicaid coverage that was renewed lost coverage. Arizona reported about 44% of those being redetermined lost coverage. As context, the combination of the state’s usual monthly renewals with renewals for those protected by the pandemic resulted in about 20% of those redetermined losing coverage in Arizona. Arkansas reported about 54% of those redetermined lost coverage (for all individuals redetermined (both those with usual monthly renewals and pandemic protected renewals). Arkansas also had a lot of people who lost coverage due to procedural denials. Individuals who lost coverage due to procedural denials are less likely to enroll in Exchange coverage. While still early, the initial evidence points to dramatically different effects of redetermination on state’s Medicaid population.

Birth Control

 A FDA advisory panel voted to recommend to the FDA that a birth control pill, an Opill brand product, would be available over the counter. If the FDA approves the recommendation, this would be the first time a birth control pill would be available over the counter.

USPSTF Recommendation

The US Preventative Services Task Force issued draft guidance that women should be screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40. The current guidance is that women should start getting screenings at age 50.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of rulings in the coming weeks. The Supreme Court has been unusually slow to release rulings so far this term. A case with major Medicaid implications, Health and Hospital Corporation v. Talevski has yet to be ruled on this term.

Previous editions: 

05/04/2023: Week in Washington

04/27/2023: Week in Washington

04/20/2023: Week in Washington

04/13/2023: Week in Washington


03/23/2023: Week in Washington

03/16/2023: Week in Washington

03/09/2023: Week in Washington

03/02/2023: Week in Washington

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